Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tundra Blonde and Some Mad Cyclists

The last painting of the snipe that I painted took me nearly two months to complete. This painting, 'Tundra Blonde' took less than two weeks from start to finish. It is the same dimensions, (14x11" instead of 11x14") and looks better in my opinion. The actual painting is a little darker, with sharper lines than the photo indicates.
Tundra scenes are something that I seldom painted before coming to Alaska. I never found it to be very interesting until I physically got out onto the tundra. It is denser, and much wetter than I had imagined. In the Autumn it is as colorful as any New England forest.
The upper layers of the tundra is mostly made up of dwarf willows and alders, with various grasses and wildflowers. Berries can be incredibly abundant in places (that is what the bears eat). Below that there are many lichens and mosses. Walking across the ground is quite difficult. The ground is spongy and wet. You tend to sink in to your knees. The water in very cold and without waterproof knee boots your feet will soon become numb.
Grizzly Bears on the tundra is a theme I have returned to again and again in my paintings. I had become quite burned out on the subject until this painting.
Male Grizzlies are usually very dark. They often look black. The blonde grizzlies are nearly always females. They usually only weigh about one third as much as an adult male. They can still crush your bones if you do not respect them.
While painting, my head is usually full of mush and I really do not know how to achieve the look that I want to get. My hand knows what to do. If I can manage to sink down into a subconscious state, then the real painting gets accomplished.The feeling after a few hours of this is like awakening from sleep. Often I am surprised by the painting that magically appears before me. I know that I do not have the ability to paint what is there in front of me. These photos do not come close to showing the subtle colors, textures, illumination, and details of the actual painting.
While my bicycle is safely hibernating through the long Winter, Scott, Jean, and a few crazy friends are out punishing their poor bikes below the Excelsior Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula. It can only be reached by Ski-plane. Scott and Jean have a remote cabin near there.
I have posted about this before but these are recent photos from their latest suicidal foray onto the frozen lake.
The ice on the lake can be incredibly slippery in places, and unstable with ice chunks pushing up through the frozen surface. An open fissure can be disguised by a thin sheet of ice over the surface.
What the photo cannot show is how cold it is below the glacier.
Okay, I may be exaggerating the danger just a bit. It looks like a lot of cold fun to me.


Jeremy Pearse said...

Lovely painting, I especially like the way you have worked on the plants etc in the fore and background bringing all the work together in an harmonious way. Thanks also for the close-ups, really helps to get a better idea of the detail and work that went into creating this painting.

Linda said...

Pretty painting; great post.